As a thriving, innovative corporation that is pursuing a transformation, Vodafone also has a commitment to using big data for social good. When the Covid-19 pandemic started to bring about its own transformation of society, the big data and AI team focused its resources onto emerging use cases, like epidemiology and financial inclusion.
As a first step, it engaged with in-house privacy and legal teams for a risk and privacy impact assessment of the use of aggregated, anonymised insights from mobile location data. Once these had been appropriately mitigated, the team built an epidemiological model to help predict how the infection would spread, providing local governments with critical insights.
The big data and AI team used agile to develop each use case with representation from across the business at daily stand-ups. External affairs teams led the engagement and communication to governments and other institutions, with care taken to align with stakeholders in each market. As insights were being developed for each country, these were reviewed by the communications team with input from the public policy tam to ensure fit with existing policies and the corporate position.
Outputs from this aggregated, anonymised data have helped to inform crisis planning by governments in Czech Republic, DRC, Ghana, Greece, Italy, Lesotho, Mozambique, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain and the UK. Presentations have also been given to the European Commission, the IMF, UNICEF and the World Bank. Much of this work has been done alongside routine daily tasks and with individuals working from home. The “Vodafone spirit” has been very evident in sustaining internal and external engagement.
This has been recognised by the executive committee, with Joakim Reiter, Vodafone Group external affairs director, saying: “Vodafone’s big data and AI team has done a truly extraordinary job to create an industry-leading modelling tool, in record time, while collaborating virtually with stakeholders both within and outside of our business. We have a unique capability, both as Europe’s largest mobile network, but also because of work that the team has also done supporting epidemiological modelling for malaria in Africa. The team is a great example of Vodafone’s purpose to use our technology to help communities connect for a better future.”